Advertisement
Legal Dictionary

marriage

Legal Definition of marriage

Noun

  1. The state-recognized, voluntary and exclusive contract for the lifelong union of two persons. Most countries do not recognize marriage between same-sex couples or polygamous marriages.

Antonyms

Related terms

Synonyms


Definition of marriage

Etymology

    From Old French mariage, from marier (“to marry”), from Latin maritare (“to marry", literally “give in marriage”), from maritus (“lover", "nuptial”), from mas (“male", "masculine", "of the male sex”)

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA: /ˈmæɹɪd'/, SAMPA: /"m{r\IdZ/
  • (US) enPR: ʹmărəj, IPA: /ˈmæɹəd'/, SAMPA: /"m{r\@dZ/
  • Audio (US) [?]
  • Audio (UK) [?]

Noun

marriage (plural marriages)

  1. The state of being married.
  2. The union of two people, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
  3. A wedding.
  4. A close union.

Further reading

Marriage (or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found. Such a union, often formalized via a wedding ceremony, may also be called matrimony.

People marry for many reasons, including one or more of the following: legal, social, libidinal, emotional, economic, spiritual, and religious. These might include arranged marriages, family obligations, the legal establishment of a nuclear family unit, the legal protection of children and public declaration of commitment. The act of marriage usually creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved. In some societies these obligations also extend to certain family members of the married persons. Some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through divorce or annulment.

Marriage is usually recognized by the state, a religious authority, or both. It is often viewed as a contract. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction.

Definitions

Anthropologists have proposed several competing definitions of marriage so as to encompass the wide variety of marital practices observed across cultures. In his book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermarck defined marriage as "a more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring." In The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionally defining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognised by custom or law".

The anthropological handbook Notes and Queries (1951) defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offspring of both partners." In recognition of a practice by the Nuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certain circumstances, Kathleen Gough suggested modifying this to "a woman and one or more other persons."

Edmund Leach criticized Gough's definition for being too restrictive in terms of recognized legitimate offspring and suggested that marriage be viewed in terms of the different types of rights it serves to establish. Leach expanded the definition and proposed that "Marriage is a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides that a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of the relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum" Leach argued that no one definition of marriage applied to all cultures. He offered a list of ten rights associated with marriage, including sexual monopoly and rights with respect to children, with specific rights differing across cultures.

Duran Bell also criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy, arguing that in societies where illegitimacy means only that the mother is unmarried and has no other legal implications, a legitimacy-based definition of marriage is circular. He proposed defining marriage in terms of sexual access rights.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



SHARE THIS PAGE


TOP LEGAL TERMS THIS WEEK
1.     AORO
2.     adjudication order
3.     Miranda warning
4.     lex patriae
5.     appellant
6.     respondeat superior
7.     case law
8.     abscond
9.     stare decisis
10.     precedent